Tens of thousands of women devotees offered ‘pongala’ as part of the Attukal Devi Temple festival at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on Wednesday.
The annual pongala event entered the Guinness World Records in 2009 as the largest annual gathering of women with the participation of about 2.5 million women. The organisers claim that the pilgrim turnout was much higher over these years.
Women set up hearths on all roads leading to the temple and prepared sweet dishes of rice and jaggery as offering to the Goddess. The event began by around 10.15 a.m. with the fire from the hearth in the temple being passed on to the hearths of thousands of devotees, which stretched for several kilometres. The rituals, which marked the ninth day of the temple’s annual festival, ended by 2.15 p.m. as priests sprinkled holy water from the temple on the offerings made by the devotees.
Elaborate arrangements were made by the government for the pilgrims who started setting up hearths even two-three days in advance. Additional train and bus services were also operated to the city from various parts of the state. Even people from other states and even foreign countries used to regularly come down for the ritual.